The image that I had of Guam before showing up, and one that it sounds like a lot of people share, is that of big overdeveloped Tamuning and Tumon.
In renting a car and just spending a day cruising the southern half of the island, though, I managed to find a bit more than just chain hotels and restaurants.
Churches, big pretty old-school looking churches for the most part, pop up all along the side of the road.
On the beaches, memorials to both US and Japanese involvement in the fierce fighting that World War II brought to Guam. There’s also a lot of emphasis on the important role Guamanians themselves played in the war effort, which is something I wasn’t familiar with.
Just near the landing-site of Magellan’s visit to (/discovery of) Guam, one of the very first churches that colonialism brought to these islands.
The history, to me, reads a bit like Monty Python. “Then we built another castle and it, too, sank into the swamp!” The church was apparently once quite nice…
…though by now has been reduced to a bit of ruins surrounded on all sides by modern development.
But, colonialism being what is was, there are always new churches to replace the ones that burn down!
Even back in the main population centers, the Hagatna neighborhood has a strong feel of Spanish influence and Catholic culture.
So, no, Guam wasn’t all glitzy hotels and seedy karaoke joints. It isn’t necessarily somewhere that would be my first choice to live, but seems worth a few days at a time. Especially since it serves as the main staging point for flights to Micronesia and Palau!